Bipolar Disorder Treatment

Bipolar disorder requires lifelong treatment. Treatment may include medication and talk therapy. The goals of treatment focus on reducing the impact of symptoms on your life.

woman who suffer from depression in therapy

Bipolar disorder is treatable and manageable

While bipolar disorder is a lifelong condition, and there is no cure, many people can learn to manage their symptoms, usually through a combination of medication and therapy.

A variety of medications are used in the treatment of bipolar disorder. Once your doctor has developed a treatment plan for you, it’s important to follow it carefully. Your doctor will depend on you to let him or her know exactly how you are feeling, so your treatment can be adjusted, if needed. It may help you to keep a chart or diary  (PDF) to track your moods and your progress. If you need information about your treatment, be sure to ask your doctor.

Another part of your treatment plan may include psychotherapy, also known as “talk therapy.” The exact type of therapy used as part of a treatment plan for bipolar disorder can vary from one person to another based on a person’s needs.

Goals of bipolar disorder treatment

There are many ways treatment can help manage bipolar disorder. Some of the goals of treatment may include

  • Addressing both the symptoms of bipolar depression and bipolar mania
  • Reducing symptoms during an episode and returning to having no obvious symptoms
  • Reducing the likelihood of future episodes
  • Increasing the time to relapse
  • Reducing the chance of causing harm to oneself or others during an episode

Work closely—and openly—with your doctor

For your treatment program to be as effective as possible, it’s important to be open and honest in your conversations with your doctor. Your doctor may be particularly interested in

  • Your family history—whether a family member has bipolar disorder or another psychiatric illness
  • The development of your symptoms—your age when they started, how often you experience them, whether they are increasing in frequency, and whether any particular event triggered them
  • Your treatment history—whether current or prior medications were effective or caused other issues
  • Whether you have symptoms of mania as well as depression—such as irritability, distractibility, having racing thoughts, or sleeping less than usual
  • Whether you have experienced some of the other factors associated with bipolar disorder—including frequent career changes, bumpy relationships with people close to you, or substance abuse